Knowledge sharing – What do you know?

In the first of a series of guest blogs, Andrew Kikeros from LifeTimeWise looks into how the desire to share knowledge is common to everyone, even those who might be leaving your organisation with one foot already out the door!

This simple line is used often as an innocuous greeting between friends. Yet when I sit down and ask a long-tenured, subject matter expert the same question, the implications are complex.

In the decade or so I have been undertaking deep knowledge mapping, capture and transfer, one of the barriers to a successful transfer is the “what’s in it for me” retort.

The decision maker at the company, the holder of the knowledge and the employee getting the handover will all ask me – “What’s in it for me?”

In this first blog in a series discussing how to successfully retain and reuse the deep smarts of valued employees, I am focussing on the individual (the holder) and how knowledge transfer can be a highly personal and emotionally charged process.

Many of the older adults I have worked with are highly committed to leaving a knowledge legacy prior to leaving a workplace they may have been at for decades. Why – because human beings are hard-wired to share knowledge, throughout the ages we have transferred what we know to others.

In the beginning, it was for survival, reinforcing the behaviours and practices that kept the tribe, safe and able to thrive in often hostile conditions.

Today the reasons behind knowledge transfer are for the organisation to survive and profit in uncertain and competitive environments.

The individuals who resist and say things like, “I am not telling this mob anything” due to real or perceived grievances (around leaving, lack of opportunities or personality clashes), deep down do want to transfer their knowledge.

I know from sitting opposite someone described above that their frustration around their departure is in a big part due to their not transferring knowledge.

Why? As I mentioned earlier, we cannot help it – as human beings, we are hardwired to learn, apply and share.

On average we work for 20 to 30 years, 48 weeks in the year, 5 days a week, 8 hours per day plus travel, checking emails outside of work and thinking about work. We develop friendships, we grow professionally and personally through our paid work and we take pride in what we do.

This thing called paid work shapes the way we see ourselves and in the way many others see us. It is unrealistic to think that leaving a legacy is not important.

What’s in it for me?

Identifying an individual’s deep knowledge goes to who they are as a human being. Many individuals feel a deep sense of collegiate responsibility and when they leave want to make sure their close co-workers don’t struggle after their departure.

My process identifies what the individual knows at a deep level, the stuff they don’t know they know. This unlocks what they are really good at, and highlights both their professional and personal attributes. It also points to their values.

For those retiring I help them translate what they know, are recognised for knowing, and what they are really good at into areas outside of paid work to apply in serious leisure.

So once they have left paid work they can find the same meaning, purpose, social connection and stimulation in leisure or volunteering.

For those continuing to work elsewhere, I help them identify their deep knowledge so they can have an edge in seeking new work. They may write a white paper based on their knowledge of an aspect of their work and use this to boost their resume.

Knowledge is a personal matter, so approaching the mapping, capture and transfer with the individual’s best interest at heart is vital for a successful handover.

In my next blog, I will describe using Activate and how this application has revolutionised the way I go about my work in solving the “what’s in it for me” for the organisation and the recipient. Hope you can join me for the next instalment, and thanks for reading!